Pipe Health, Part One: How to keep your facility’s pipes from freezing

January 9, 2019

Frozen water shut off handle in snowstorm

According to Property Claim Services, winter storms cause an average of $1.5 billion in property damage each year, but some years can be far worse. The winter of 2015, according to Verisk Analytics, was responsible for $3.5 billion in damages with some of the worst winter damage caused by freezing and bursting pipes.


Facilities in the Southern U.S.—areas that rarely see cold weather—are at greater risk for freezing pipes than facilities in the Northern U.S., because they aren’t used to taking the necessary precautions. Here are some tips on how to keep your pipes from freezing this winter.


Look for problem areas – Look for damaged water lines, check for drafts, and test heating, freeze prevention systems, and water monitoring equipment. Repair any damage you find.


Seal the building – Use calk or foam to seal the building’s envelope.


Insulation and heat – Be sure to heat all building areas that contain water lines. In areas that don’t see a lot of use, keep the temperature above 50°F.


Insulation – Use foam insulation on any exposed pipes in heated areas, especially along exterior walls.


Heat tracing tape or cables – Use these items supply heat directly to exposed pipes in unheated areas.


Keep water running – If you’re worried about faucets in colder parts of the building, keep water running at a low drip. This may not keep your pipes from freezing, but it will alleviate the pressure and prevent them from bursting.


Water monitors and temperature control devices – Water flow monitoring devices provide an up-to-the-minute measurement of the total volume of water flowing through your facility. If water flow exceeds pre-set limits, the device assumes there is a pipe breakage and automatically shuts off the primary water main valve, which can prevent major water damage.


Temperature monitoring devices are small, coin-sized wireless monitors that send real-time alerts to your computer or smart phone if temperatures fall below a set limit, so you can identify problems before disaster strikes.


Following these steps should prevent your pipes from freezing this winter. For help in readying your facility for the season, contact Vanguard Resources.